Jeff Arnold’s West

The blog of a Western fan, for other Western fans

Stay and Die by Jeff Arnold


New Western novel


This is a red-letter day for your Jeff, because today Stay and Die is published, his new Western novel, and I hope you will forgive me, dear e-readers, if I pause in my commentary of other people’s Westerns to blow my own little trumpet for a moment.



Stay and Die tells of John Joshua Webb, known as Josh, a real person who operated on both sides of the law. He knew Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, Doc Holliday and others in Dodge City, KS and was a member of several posses at that time, including one to hunt down Dirty Dave Rudabaugh after a train robbery. In 1878, there were wild reports of Cheyenne raids on the people of the Dodge area which caused Lt Colonel William Henry Lewis to recruit Josh and Bill Tilghman to serve as Army scouts. In 1879 Josh was one of the gunmen under Bat Masterson on the side of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe in the Royal Gorge railroad war in Colorado, really more of a lark than a war.


But Stay and Die picks up Josh’s story when he arrives in Las Vegas, NMT on July 4th that year, the day the AT&SF arrived in town on its way south to Santa Fe, and a moment of enthusiastic celebration.


As the blurb on the book (not written by Jeff) says:


Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory in 1879, when the railroad arrives, is a boomtown for men and women of dubious virtue from all over the West. Gamblers, gunmen, crooks, shady ladies, they all drift in, and the result is explosive.
In this febrile and dangerous environment, real historical characters interact with fictional ones to create an atmosphere of tension which will climax in violence and passion.
John Joshua Webb is one of those who arrive in town looking for action. Josh will run into old friends from Dodge like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and will cross paths with the likes of Jesse James and Billy the Kid.
But most of all he will have to deal with the sinister éminence grise of the wide-open town, Hoodoo Brown, who first hires Josh, but then needs him gone.
Josh will find love and lose it, and he will have to decide whether to leave, and live, or stay and die…


It doesn’t all go swimmingly for Josh.


JJ Webb (center) shackled in Las Vegas jail


Actually, of those “real historical characters” who “interact with fictional ones” nearly all are real people, although of course many of their actions, most of what they say and all of what they think have been imagined. I have seen so many movies and read so many books about these people that I almost feel I know them, and I greatly enjoyed being a puppeteer and deciding what they do! I hope their shades will forgive me. I wouldn’t like to arrive in the next world and find them there waiting for me with .45s loaded…


And talking of all those Western movies, all perspicacious readers (that’s you) will definitely recognize certain lines of dialogue here and there. That’s part of the fun.


I went for a film noir tone. You will decide whether I succeeded. It’s quite a dark tale, with an angst-ridden hero, a femme fatale, a brooding atmosphere and other attributes of the noir Western. You know, Blood on the Moon, Pursued, Colorado Territory, that kind of thing. Not that I’m saying my tale is as good as those (though of course I secretly think it).


Mind, there’s humor too. All good Westerns have to have a spot of comic relief. And romance as well– she’s not only fatale, this femme, she’s also rather a goer…


And naturally a derringer plays a key part.



Well, I hope I’ve said enough to whet your appetite, dear e-readers, so that you immediately rush down to your local bookstore or click online to purchase a copy.


Meanwhile, I’m working on the sequel (or prequel in fact), as well as waiting by the phone for Netflix to get in touch about the film rights (now that Raoul Walsh, William Wyler and Howard Hawks are no longer with us).


Already the accolades are flooding in:


“I wish I could write English as well as this chap.” (W Shakespeare, Stratford on Avon)

“Makes some of us look like amateurs.” (Z Grey, Zanesville, OH)

“Clearly one of the great Western novelists.” (H Melville, New York)

“Not my kind of book at all. Far too exciting.” (J Fenimore Cooper, Cooperstown, NY)



Title: Stay and Die

Publisher ‏: ‎ Austin Macauley Publishers (Nov 10, 2023)

Language ‏: ‎ English

Paperback ‏: ‎ 204 pages

ISBN-10 ‏: ‎ 1528982681

ISBN-13 ‏: ‎ 978-1528982689

US$ 14.95

UK£ 9.99

€ 14.70


Buy it from:

Barnes & Noble




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